When you’re feeling neglected by someone close to you, it can leave you feeling lonely and wondering if you did something wrong.
It’s important to look at the situation objectively to determine what might be causing their hurtful behavior so you can get past it and strengthen the bond the two of you share.
If you’ve ever felt neglected by the one you love, you’re not alone. It happens to the best of couples, but recovering is all in the way you handle it.
Healthy, happy relationships take a lot of work and patience, and you should know there are plenty of things you can do if you’re feeling ignored by the one person who claims to love you most.
In this feature, we’ll try to define emotional neglect, and get to the signs of feeling neglected, what to do, and what not to do, so you can learn to handle neglect and deal with it in the best ways possible.
According to Dr. John M. Grohol, Psy.D. over at PsychCentral.com, one of the surest ways to ruin a relationship fast is to ignore your partner. In fact, being ignored is often worse than being hated by someone.
When someone ignores another person, it essentially says, “I don’t care enough to even waste the effort of anger on you.” If your loved one actively ignores you for extended periods of time, the relationship may be doomed, according to Dr. Grohol.
Before getting all worked up, though, it pays to take a step back and look at things from another perspective. As we said before, there are things you can do to identify the issues and fix them before it’s too late. No one likes feeling neglected, so keep reading to gain a fresh perspective. [Read: How to stop thinking about someone who doesn’t like you back]
But first, let’s look at a specific form of neglect – emotional neglect.
Usually, when we say we’re feeling neglected, we are referring to emotional neglect. This kind of neglect involves failing to provide the emotional support that you should give when you are in a relationship with someone.
It can happen in any type of relationship – from parent/child to romantic relationships.
When you give someone emotional support, it involves a combination of physical, behavioral, and mental aspects of a relationship. If someone is emotionally neglectful, it is sometimes considered a personality trait of the person. This is because the behavior is ongoing and habitual. [Read: How to recognize the signs of emotional neglect in a relationship]
Emotional neglect has a powerful influence on the quality of a relationship. And unfortunately, it is quite common.
One common form of emotional neglect is the “silent treatment.” When a partner emotionally withdraws into silence, it can be interpreted as the person manipulating the other person into changing their behavior or punishing them for some reason. [Read: How to respond to silent treatment and stop being power-played]
Our brains are hard-wired to see this type of emotional neglect as a rejection. And no one likes rejection because it is painful. It can almost be as painful as actual physical pain.
Feeling rejected or abandoned sends a signal to our brain that triggers fear. And this kind of fear is that we are “not good enough” for the other person. We might even think that we are “unlovable.” And when we feel like this, we need our partner the most. [Read: How to recognize an emotionally distant partner and deal with them]
However, when we are emotionally neglected in a relationship, our partner doesn’t even notice that we are in distress. They certainly don’t attend to or respond to us in a loving manner. When this happens over time, we eventually feel insecure and unsafe in our relationship. [Read: 18 emotions you should never feel in a healthy relationship]
Now that we know what emotional neglect is, let’s look at the common general signs of neglect in a relationship.
You might think that the signs of neglect would be obvious, but some people second-guess themselves. So, here are the things you should be looking for. [Read: What does it mean to be emotionally available? 19 signs and fixes]
You might be in the same house or room with the person, but you might as well be invisible. They don’t talk to you, look at you, or even acknowledge you in any way. So, if you are in a romantic relationship, you actually feel like you are single.
Maybe the person you are being neglected by doesn’t even bother to be in the same room with you. They might be isolated in another one, or just not in the house at all. So, you probably spend a lot of time by yourself. This can lead to a lot of feelings of loneliness. [Read: 28 truths about feeling alone in a relationship and how to fix it ASAP]
When you’re being neglected by your romantic partner, there will definitely be no connection or intimacy between the two of you.
You probably don’t have sex anymore, and you don’t hear “I love you” or compliments at all. There are just no feelings of affection between the two of you anymore. [Read: Emotional intimacy or sexual intimacy – the chicken or the egg?]
When you are neglected, that means that your partner is turning their attention to things other than you. It could be friends, work, video games, or any other distraction that is keeping them from talking to you. You might utter a few words here and there, but that’s the extent of your conversation with them.
If you ask your partner to have date night because you miss them, they might agree to it. Then you get excited about the possibility of repairing your relationship.
But then when you make plans, they make any excuse to get out of it. When they promise you something, you can usually expect them to not follow through at all.
Empathy is when you can see another person’s perspective – even if you don’t agree with it. So, another sign of neglect is when the person has no empathy for you.
They don’t care about your feelings, your needs, and your desires. Instead, they are much more selfish and only focus on what they want. [Read: 20 signs of lack of empathy that show they don’t care what you think]
If you need to make a major life decision, you can’t count on them to help you. They leave you completely on your own.
Even if it’s something less life-altering like your car broke down, you can’t count on them to come and pick you up and help you. They are just never there for you and never have your back.
If you experience any or many of these feelings and signs in your relationship, there’s a very good chance that you are being emotionally neglected in your relationship. [Read: Why people take you for granted – 16 signs & firm ways to stop them]
No one gets into a relationship with someone just to be ignored. If that were the case, we’d all go back and relive our high school days, right?
No, feeling neglected and ignored hurts, so here are some things you can do if you find yourself in a relationship where you are being ignored.
Before jumping to any conclusions, take a minute to examine your own behavior. If your loved one is ignoring you, it might be due to something you inadvertently did to make them feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable.
Maybe you are too clingy or too intrusive. It might just be that your partner needs a little space every once in a while. [Read: Why am I so insecure? 29 ways and fixes to feel secure and loved from within]
It could very well be that your loved one’s lack of attention has nothing to do with you at all. Try seeing things from their point of view. Maybe they are simply busy or don’t feel well.
Maybe they are tired or experiencing a distracting family issue. It’s important to consider all possibilities when you’re feeling neglected. [Read: 20 sure reasons why a guy could be ignoring you]
When you’re feeling neglected, just give the other person a short break. Try not texting or calling them for an entire day.
This gives them a chance to miss you and text or call you first. Furthermore, try to stop texting or calling about trivial things, especially if they are going through a tough time or are busy.
By making yourself a little less available to your loved one, you create an air of mystery about you that might lead them to wonder what you’re up to. [Read: How to stop being needy – Why people become clingy and how to fix it]
When someone ignores you, it’s easy to become sad or even depressed. The best thing to do in a situation like this is to get out of your own head. Smile, be happy, and don’t allow the other person’s hurtful behavior to ruin your day. [Read: How to stop overthinking in a relationship and calm your mind down]
The happier you are, the more likely people are to be drawn to you. Confidence is sexy, so be the strong, confident type, and people will find you extremely hard to ignore.
Always have a backup plan for those times when your partner isn’t available. Go out with your friends or immerse yourself in a project. Throwing a pity party for one is no way to spend your valuable time–and besides, it’s good and healthy to keep a life that’s independent of each other.
It keeps you grounded, and having something to keep you busy stops you from overthinking the situation. [Read: How to be independent even when you’re in a relationship]
One of the best ways to figure out the situation and get past it is to confront the other person and simply be honest about how you’re feeling. Come right out and ask them why they are ignoring you.
Did you do or say something wrong, or is there some other reason?
It could simply be that they have no clue they are neglecting you and that you are feeling this way. In this situation, honesty and kindness are key.
Once you find out the reason for the neglect, you can begin to fix the problem. Try reconnecting with each other by talking about your passions and interests.
Give each other ample time to talk and express yourselves without interrupting the other when they’re on a roll. Ask questions and truly be interested in what the other person has to say. [Read: Relationship slump – 22 ways to get out and come out closer than ever]
Demand it. If all of your attempts at being honest and reconnecting with each other fail to rectify your loved one’s neglectful ways, let them know you will not be disrespected that way. Don’t let them continue to get away with it.
You deserve better. Tell them that the two of you need to communicate better in order for the relationship to work. [Read: Don’t make someone a priority when you’re only an option to them]
When you’re feeling neglected in a relationship, there are definite things you should NOT do. Don’t:
Unless you’re one hundred percent sure your partner is cheating on you, lying to you, or breaking the rules of your relationship in some way, never make accusations. Doing so may push them even further away.
You might be totally convinced you know why your loved one is ignoring you, but never assume. You know what they say about assuming, don’t you? It makes an A-S-S out of U and M-E.
Do not jump to conclusions; you could be totally wrong, or not know the entire story. [Read: Is someone pushing you away? 23 signs, why they push and what to do]
If what your partner tells you doesn’t add up, pay attention. On the other hand, if your loved one conveys in some way that they want help, be conscious of that as well. Get the facts and be able to read between the lines, if necessary. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – 16 steps to a better love life]
Feeling neglected can certainly cause you to be angry and hurt, but don’t get defensive. Whining, being needy, or trying to justify your behavior won’t bring your loved one closer to you.
As much as your partner’s neglect feels like rejection, don’t play the victim. Don’t make the situation all about you, unless you know for sure it IS all about you.
[Read: How to stop feeling ignored by someone you really love]
Emotional neglect in a relationship hurts a lot, because it makes you experience the worst side of a bad relationship – you feel alone, neglected, and taken for granted, all at once.
But it can be fixed, as long as you remember what to do when you feel neglected, and try to work with your partner instead of against them.
Remember, you can’t force someone to care all of a sudden or love you better, but you can explain yourself, talk about your feelings, and teach them to love you in a way you desire to be loved.
[Read: How to tell your partner you’re unhappy and help them understand you better]
Feeling neglected by someone you love sucks–big time. Before you call it quits, however, find out the reason behind the behavior and take steps to fix it. After all, communicating and working together to bring positive changes in your relationship builds a stronger bond that lasts.
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